This scene from the 2019 film JOKER arrested the world's imagination. In today's COVID crisis, it is even more relevant.
Joker never gets a diagnosis, but his ambivalent laughter may be likened to double-bind communication. The double bind is a simple psychological concept: an individual receives two contradictory messages, with each message negating the other. A typical example is a mother telling her child: “Be spontaneous.” If the child acts spontaneously, he is not acting spontaneously, because he is following his mother’s direction. As a result, the child may lose his grip on reality.
The Covid-19 pandemic put us in a similar situation. On the one hand, we must be extremely social, putting the health of others above our private concerns. On the other hand, extended isolation makes us anti-social. We are now doing Joker's dance in our living rooms.
The double bind is difficult, but not entirely hopeless. As Einstein said, ‘’No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’’ There are two ways to approach this. We can embrace the double bind, or think of a new perspective outside of the system.